The COMA Method

How do you move from text to life when reading the Bible? Here is a simple, four-step process for doing just that. The four steps in the process form the acronym COMA.

C: Context

Before you can apply a passage from the Bible to your own life, you need to understand what it meant to its original audience. What was their context? There are at least two contexts that should be considered for every Bible passage.

Historical setting: Who wrote this book? Who were they writing to? What problem were they addressing in the lives of their readers? When did the action in this book take place? What was going on in the world at the time?

Literary setting: There are different kinds (or genres) of literature in the Bible and different rules for interpreting each one.

Context information (including a Bible Project video and more) can be found at ccclife.org/context.

O: Observations

Next, read the passage and make as many observations about it as you possibly can. Here are four things to keep your eyes open for.

If it helps, you can use the acronym TRTS (“treats”) to remember them.

  • T = Theme: What word or phrase summarizes what this passage is all about?
  • R = Repeating Words or Ideas: What comes up multiple times in the passage?
  • T = Truths about God: What does this passage tell you about God (Father, Son, or Spirit)?
  • S = Something Striking: Anything jump out at you for some other reason?
M: Message

The next step is to determine the basic message—a timeless principle—that God is communicating through this passage. To do this, pick just one of your observations—you will probably have a few—and ask, “What message might I draw from this observation?” Try to sum it up in one, simple sentence.

A tool to help you find the principle behind one of your observations is the acronym SPECS. Ask yourself, do I see one of the following in this passage:

S: Sin to confess
P: Promise to claim
E: Example to follow
C: Command to obey
S: Statement about God

A: Application

This is where the rubber meets the road. How can you put this principle into practice in your own life? Here are some tips for applying the message of a passage to your life:

  • Make it personal and specific.
  • Write it down.
  • Pray for help.

This is a process that you can do on your own, with friends or family, or in a community group. Even if you do this privately, it is more powerful if you talk with others about what you learn each day.